Blinders, Diamonds and Choices
Do our life choices change the reality around us? Or do our choices fit us with a set of blinders so we pay attention only to what is of immediate interest? Winifred Gallagher in “Rapt: Attention and the Focused Life” argues that our senses are fine-tuned to track the smaller set of interests that are important to us. Her masterful book shows the physiological and neurological changes—and the enormous benefits—that happen when we pay attention. But it is also true that life choices change the reality around us.
A few of us have been reading the minor prophet Amos. Amos spoke against the treatment of the poor—over and over again. That’s what prophets do: with little personal authority (Amos was a shepherd), they get tricked-out with a much larger message (larger audience, bigger content, massive ramifications) and they…say it. Out loud. Come what may.
Which is what Amos did. He spoke out against nation after nation for taking advantage of their helpless (among other things). He had a special harangue against nations that should have known better, nations who should have had top-of-mind recollection about how they were recently saved from helplessness themselves.
As we talked about Amos, I mentioned how the poor seem almost invisible today. There are the homeless, but because I’m not paying attention (I’m not actively looking for them), I don’t see them. A couple students in my “Writing for Community” class are doing a masterful job bringing attention to the faces and people-ness of the homeless here. But how can I, how can we begin to see the poor among us? And more importantly, how can I/we keep from choices that trample on them? This spot hints at the effect of our choices: